July 27, 2012 |
For the first time, scientists have changed a monkey's behavior with a simple flash of blue light. Well, that and a fancy cellular technique called “optogenetics.” The new research clears an important hurdle on the path toward using the light-based approach to treat human neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and depression. Optogenetics takes advantage of a class of proteins called channelrhodopsins. The proteins naturally reside in the outer walls of some algae, and have a peculiar property: They are activated by light.
July 7, 2012 |
Bipedal robots, in general, are a pretty stilted bunch. Their movements are overarticulated, they wobble, they topple, and when faced with an obstacle -- even one as slight as a slope change -- they often can't overcome it. But that may soon change. This week, researchers from the Univeristy of Arizona published a paper in the Journal of Neural Engineering that describes the development of a new type of robot legs that mimic the neuromuscular architecture of human walking.
September 4, 2013 |
Screaming at your teenagers to discipline them can make their behavior worse - even if you otherwise have a warm family relationship, researchers say. The effects were comparable to those in studies that focused on physical punishments, the researchers said. “From that we can infer that these results will last the same way that the effects of physical discipline do,” the lead researcher, Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement.
February 4, 2014 |
Up and down the West Coast, starfish are dying. Casualties of a mysterious disease known as seastar wasting syndrome, they are dying in Alaska, deteriorating in San Diego and disappearing from long stretches in between. Death from the disease is quick and icky. It begins with a small lesion on a starfish's body that rapidly develops into an infection the animal cannot fight. Over the course of the disease the starfish's legs might drop off, or even separate from the body and start to crawl away, as you can see in the PBS news story below.
February 1, 2013 |
Scientists have infused "life" into inanimate chemical compounds by flashing a blue-violet light that prompted them to assemble themselves into a crystal. The feat, described in a study published online Thursday by the journal Science, marks an important step toward creating "active" materials that can repair themselves, such as a smartphone screen that fixes its own cracks or a Kevlar vest that fills a hole made by a bullet, experts said. Showing that microscopic particles can be made to come together or break apart on their own "opens a new area for design and production of novel and moving structures," wrote the study authors, a team of physicists and chemists from New York University and Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
September 21, 2010 |
The dark dust thrown up by human activity in the deserts of the Southwest hastens the melting of Rocky Mountain snow and ultimately reduces the amount of water flowing into the upper Colorado River by about 5%, scientists reported Monday. The lost water amounts to more than 250 billion gallons — enough to supply the Los Angeles region for 18 months, said study leader Thomas H. Painter, a snow hydrologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "That's a lot of water," said Painter, whose study was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
October 17, 2009 |
Is 2012 the end of the world? If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie "2012," scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event. Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.
September 5, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- The Smithsonian National Zoo announced Thursday that the giant panda cub born there two weeks ago is a girl, is very chatty and "has a fat little belly. " Scientists confirmed the sex of the cub, which was born to Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) on Aug. 23, according to a news release. DNA tests also showed that the zoo's panda Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) is the father of the cub. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice in late March, with sperm from Tian Tian and from a panda named Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo, after unsuccessful natural breeding attempts with Tian Tian.
January 28, 2013 |
A team of storm-chasing scientists sampling rarefied air has found a world of bacteria and fungi floating about 30,000 feet above Earth. The findings, detailed Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that microbes have the potential to affect the weather. Scientists have long studied airborne bacteria, but they typically do so from the ground, often trekking to mountain peaks to examine microbes in fresh snow. Beyond that, they don't know much about the number and diversity of floating microbes, said study coauthor Athanasios Nenes, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 18, 2014 |
A group of scientists warned Tuesday that world leaders must act more swiftly to slow greenhouse gas emissions or risk "abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes" from climate change. The American Assn. for the Advancement of Science's blunt report contains no new scientific conclusions. But by speaking in plain, accessible terms it seeks to instill greater urgency in leaders and influence everyday Americans. Scientists said many previous assessments have been long and ponderous, and have failed to shift public opinion on global warming.